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Monthly Archives: December 2020

Druk (Another Round)

(Denmark, English subtitles). Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is a high school teacher who has hit a bit of a mid-life crisis. His classes are boring, his family life is boring, with a wife who works nights and is becoming more estranged, and two teenage sons who are off doing their own thing. He and three other teachers decide to test a theory that blood alcohol content should always be at least .05 with no drinking after 8 pm or on the weekends. Their goal is to see if it improves their professional and social lives. The test starts off well enough, …

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Mank

This biopic stars Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz, who co-wrote with Orson Welles the screenplay for Citizen Kane. The film starts after a serious car accident sends Mank to Victorville, CA in seclusion to recover and to write the screenplay for Citizen Kane in 60 days. The film then moves back and forth between the present day and the era during which he became more well-known in Hollywood and the days of his friendship with William Randolph Hearst and his much younger mistress Marion (played brilliantly by Amanda Seyfried). I liked the film a lot. It is shot in black …

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

This film is an adaptation of a play of the same name by August Wilson (who also wrote the play Fences that was adapted to the screen in 2016). The subject is Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), a woman considered by many to be the “Mother of the Blues”, and her band over the course of a studio recording session. The plot centers on her trumpeter, Levee (Chadwick Boseman), who is headstrong and wants to play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” his way. I typically find film adaptations of stage plays to be rather hollow; each platform has its strengths that don’t …

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Small Axe

Steve McQueen III, who is probably best known for his film, 12 Years a Slave, brings a new concept, a collection of 5 feature films that stand on their own but are being packaged as a Limited Series on Amazon Prime. The subject is the experience of West Indian immigrants in London between 1960 and the early 1980s. While each film stands on its own, I find it much easier to think about all of them together. This is an excellent collection of stories that are immersed in their particular eras. The first, Mangrove, is based on the true story …

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Wolfwalkers

This is the latest animated film by the same director who created The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. Robyn and her father Bill have stationed in Ireland in 1650 at an outpost overseen by a cruel ruler. Robyn dreams of hunting wolves, like her father. One day, Robyn meets Mebh, who turns out to be a wolf walker, a creature who by day is in human form but at night can leave the sleeping body and roam the world as a wolf. This is a really beautiful film. The story is based on Celtic legend but feels …

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The Prom

The Prom: Meryl Streep and James Corden Broadway stars whose recent play was panned; Nicole Kidman, an actress relegated to the chorus who dreams of being at center stage; and Andrew Rannells, a guy who attended Juilliard but is serving drinks in a Broadway theater are all down on their luck and decide that they need to adopt a cause to reinvigorate their brands. In Iowa, when the local PTA finds out that Emma is going to bring her girlfriend to the prom, the head of the PTA stops at nothing to ensure that Emma won’t be attending. The 4 …

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The Host

(Korea, English subtitles): I know that a lot of people have probably already seen this one, but I missed it, and I have been doing a Bong Joon-Ho movie-watching binge, and here we are. Kang-du is a single father of Hyun-seo; both live with his father. Kang-du appears to be narcoleptic, falling asleep at the window of the little store his father owns. One day, as he is delivering food to a customer outside, a slimy fish-lizard like creature arises from the river and creates mayhem and, at the same time, takes Hyun-seo. The remainder of the film is about …

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Okja

(Korea, subtitled, with some parts in English): Mija, a young girl living with her grandfather in Korea, has been raising a gigantic pig, Okja. The pig is one of 26 “non-genetically modified” super pigs that were spread around the world to be raised by a very bizarre corporation out to create the best sausages by pigs that grown very large and poop economically – all under the guise of being environmentally friendly. Okja has been designated as the prize pig, and Mija finds herself in the intersection between corporate and animal rights activists. The film is a rather interesting collection …

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David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

David Attenborough, who has been studying, filming, and telling stories about the planet and its inhabitants for many, many decades now, reflects on his life’s work in meeting head-on the impending crisis of the Holocene: Climate change and its acceleration caused by humans. Throughout the film that parallels his journeys and his fascination with nature, he marks various decades with three basic statistics: Population; Atmospheric Carbon PPM; and percentage of the world that is wilderness. Human’s footprint is unmistakable, and he projects what will happen over the next 80 years (much of which is already happening today). Attenborough does provide …

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Memories of Murder

(Korea, English Subtitles). One of Bong Joon-Ho’s first big hits is now available for rent on Amazon Prime! The film, based on a true crime story that was not solved at the time of the film’s original release, is about the efforts of some local detectives to find a serial killer. Two detectives from a local police department, one of who has anger control issues, and the other who seems to have gotten his training from crime detective television shows, are joined by an educated detective from Seoul. The first half of the film is very funny watching Detective Park …

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